Shaiyah |

Shaiyah Luthuli


How did you become vegan or move towards this way of life?

My journey started in April 2013 when I started to seriously engage Geel, who was a friend of mine on Facebook at the time. He was vegan and part of a larger self-organised vegan community called the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. When we talked on Facebook, veganism would always form part of our conversations. He – and the Hebrew community – believed that it did not make biological sense for humans to eat animals, and that plants were the original diet of man.

As he shared with me the various experienced benefits of this way of life, I became attracted to the health aspects of eating plants as I was on a personal fitness journey (I was overweight and wanted to lose weight). At that time, I had just lost weight by only controlling my portions, cutting out soft fizzy drinks and increased my water and 100% fruit juice intake. I was also eating more vegetables, but NEVER dreamt of quitting meat.

As we spoke, the benefits were really attractive to me so I decided to stop eating meat altogether, but kept going back to eating fish, yoghurt and cheese. That went on for the whole of 2013 until I did my own research on the benefits and ways to make it easier for myself. I started to eat more of the vegan meals that I was already acquainted with and are popular in black communities like sweet potatoes, yams, phuthu and spinach, rice and vegetable curries, steamed bread with sugar bean curry and so on. Geel then introduced me to other members of the African Hebrew Israelites in Durban, where I got to attend ‘Health Watch’ classes on Sundays. During those classes, books of where the information was coming from were shared, so I started to buy and read more of those books and prepared the recipes in those books. Recipes were also occasionally shared in the classes. By 2014 I was pretty much completely vegan and have been since.

What year did you become vegan?


What is your day job/career?

Writer, entrepreneur, and full-time dreamer

Are there any foods you enjoy now that you wouldn’t eat or hadn’t tried before?

There are a lot, hey! Soy milk, almond milk. Nut milks altogether. I never knew they existed. Mock cheeses and meats made from plant proteins. I really enjoy kelbone (seitan). Smoothies – I had never had any or tried any until I became vegan. Also eggplant- I had never eaten it before but I’m really trying now. I love baba ganoush! Sea weeds – I didn’t know there were such things. Rice paper – I would’ve asked… “there’s paper made from rice? How’s that even possible?” lol. Hey, I can go on. Veganism opens your eyes and broadens your options when it comes to food and thinking generally.

What is your favourite meal or snack?

I don’t think I have favourite meals and snacks but I do enjoy savoury rice cakes, kale chips, summer fruits (especially seeded watermelon and mangoes), cherries, falafels, anything with broccoli and I love quiche and lasagna. I just love to eat fam!

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